Make the most of family time with these mindful moments

As a wife, parent of three teens and a full-time mindfulness teacher in schools and privately, making time to connect with my family can be difficult, especially with everyone running in different directions. But that struggle helps me to not only appreciate the joyful times even more when they come but to be fully present to them.

Here are a few things you can do to stay connected to the people you love in the midst of your busy life:

  • Practice open-hearted listening. This is listening without an agenda or the need to be heard, and it is amazing to witness what a gift this can be.
  • Make it a point to have quality time with your partner as often as you can. Hold hands, be silly, try a new restaurant, go for a walk, sit and talk about something other than the kids or work or your five-to-10-year goals, etc., and really practice open–hearted listening.
  • Put your phones away. In our house, they are not at the table with us when we eat and we leave them in our family charging station for hours at a time in the evening. We also don’t sleep with them in our rooms.
  • Use your screens for good by sharing funny or touching videos. I give the “memes” my kids show me my undivided attention because I’ve realized they are sharing their world with me, and that is an honor that makes me try very hard not to judge.
  • Take the time every day to say “good morning” and “goodnight” with a hug. Cuddle with your partner, too. Hugs release oxytocin, which decreases stress hormones in the body.
  • Turn off the TV at least one night a week and do something creative or life-affirming (read a book, paint, color, meditate, have a dance party, get out in nature, etc.)
  • Do chores together. Every Sunday, we clean the house to start the week feeling fresh and organized. Working for a common goal creates connection.
  • Eat dinner together as a family as many nights as possible.

These practices are all quite simple. The hardest thing is making the time. But believing they matter more than your unending to-do list and being present to them will make your life a more joyful experience.

Contributor: Jacquelyn O’Malley, M.Ed, is co-founder and co-director of the Center for Mindfulness and Wellness in Fort Washington, Pa., and a certified school counselor.

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